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Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Received May 09, 2016;
Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

The Effect of Rotor Casing on Low


Pressure Steam Turbine and
Diffuser Interactions

Gursharanjit Singh
GE Power, Rugby, UK
singh.gursharanjit1@gmail.com

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The present study aims to investigate the interaction between a last-stage steam
turbine blade row and diffuser. This work is carried out using computational
(CFD) simulations of a generic last stage low pressure (LP) turbine and axialradial exhaust diffuser attached to it. In order to determine the validity of the
computational method, the CFD predictions are first compared with data
obtained from an experimental test facility. A computational study is then
performed for different design configurations of the diffuser and rotor casing
shapes. The study focuses on typical flow features such as effects of rotor tip
leakage flows and subsequent changes in the rotor-diffuser interactions. The
results suggest that the rotor casing shape influences the rotor work extraction
capability and yields significant improvements in the diffuser static pressure
recovery.

Andrew P. S. Wheeler
Department of Engineering
University of Cambridge, UK

Gurnam Singh

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GE Power, Rugby, UK

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Keywords: Steam turbines, rotor, diffusers, pressure recovery, last stage blades

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INTRODUCTION
The majority of the worlds power production is made
through steam turbine power plants using different natural
resources. Further improvement in efficiency of a steam turbine
is important to meet increasing power needs, controlling fuel
costs with less exploitation of the natural resources. Over the
past decades, the technology has been developed to use longer
last stage blades [1] in the steam turbines and these are now
contributing up to 20% of the total power produced in the steam
power plants [2]. This is self-evident from thermodynamics of
the Rankine cycle that large enthalpy drops occur at the lower
pressure side of the steam turbine. It also means that there will
be large entropy productions at the lower pressure (and
temperature) areas of the steam turbine [3].
Specific power output from a Low Pressure (LP) steam
turbine can be enhanced by increasing its internal efficiency or
raising the pressure ratio across its ends. Increase in efficiency
can be achieved by better designs changes [4]; exploiting a full
3D design [1,5], or reduction in the internal losses [3]. Increase
in pressure ratio across the turbine stage can be achieved by
connecting it to an exhaust diffuser that helps to recover the
leaving kinetic energy losses from the LP turbine. The exact
nature of flow inside a diffuser is still unknown to some extent.
A large number of diffuser mappings (channel, conical,
annular) have been studied [6] and compiled (for instance [7]).
However these mappings cannot be used directly for axialradial diffusers which are commonly used for steam-turbine
exhausts. One of the main reasons for this is the short axial

GTP-16-1174

length available for most of the industrial designs, thereby


suggesting an axial-radial diffuser, and the complexity of the
flow exiting the last stage is not similar to ones achieved for the
common experimentally tested diffusers. For example as a
general trend, an axial-radial channel diffuser will have lower
pressure recovery when compared to its axial counterpart for a
given area ratio [7]. Axial diffusers tend to have more uniform
exit flows with fewer losses but necessarily require greater
axial length for the same diffusion, and hence due to high costs
are not practical to use within steam turbines.
Significant technological improvements have been made in
the understanding of the flow physics inside a blade row [8]
and its exhaust diffuser [9], but general flow features remain
similar: the exit flow from the LSB is non-uniform with large
variations in spanwise reaction, the flow is affected by the tip
leakage jet and other secondary flow features generating a
purely three-dimensional flow. Other factors such as blade
wakes and supersonic flow are assumed to affect the
performance of both blade and its diffuser.
Greitzer et al. [11] discussed a simple analysis of the flow
non-uniformity for axial (annular) diffusers. In this analysis,
they categorized the flow regime into boundary layer flow and
core flow (flow outside the boundary layer). They established
that the distortions due to pressure forces on the core velocity
non-uniformity can reduce the performance (Cp) of the diffuser
relative to the uniform core flow. Liu et al [12-15]
demonstrated that the spanwise variations in diffuser inlet flow
affects the diffuser hub and casing differently. Similarly, studies

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Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Received May 09, 2016;
Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

SysPr
LSB
MP
/

System Pressure Ratio P o, rotor in/Pdiffuser out


Last Stage Blades (LSB) of Low Pressure Turbine
Mixing plane interface between the rotor and diffuser
Fraction of blade pitch

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COMPUTATIONAL SET-UP
The flow solver used for the entire study is TBLOCK-11.9, a
3D RANS solver developed by Prof. John Denton and is widely
used in the industry. It is mainly derived from the time
marching methods as described in [23-26]. The spatial
differences are completely centered, using cell corner storage
and the time stepping is based on the 'Scree' algorithm [27].
The algorithm is comparatively fast and requires minimum
artificial viscosity. It employs a multi-block approach by
dividing the flow domain into various blocks of different sizes
and shapes while joining them with different patches (as
desired by the user).
The turbulence is modeled using either the Baldwin-Lomax
mixing length model or the Spalart-Allmaras (SA) model.
Depending on the near wall mesh resolution, wall functions can
be employed if the first grid-line away from the wall is outside
of the viscous sub-layer [28]. For this study, the first grid point
away from the wall was positioned within y+<5 for all viscous
surfaces. Also, for most of the blade surface the y+ values lie
between 2-3 and the corresponding y+ values fall between 1-3
on the diffuser casing side. With SA model, the solver gives an
option to use the mixing length model for the first 10 grid
points (streamwise direction) in the inlet block to generate a
realistic profile of turbulent viscosity in the endwall boundary
layer entering the rotor.
The flow domain was divided into the 14 blocks (9-rotor, 3diffuser and 2-tip gap if present). The rotor passage has 2M grid
points, while the diffuser contains 1.6M grid points. TBLOCK
being a structured mesh solver, an O-H mesh topology was
adopted for the rotor passage (the last stage blades are highly
staggered from hub to tip and a normal H-mesh is not suitable),
while the tip-gap and diffuser were modeled with an H-mesh.
Figure 1 shows the mesh used for the case with a tip-gap of 1%
span. Here, part A shows the mesh for the whole domain as
seen in the meridional plane. Part B depicts the mesh on the
rotor surfaces as viewed at an oblique angle from the top. Part
C gives the zoomed-in view of the mesh around rotor trailing
edges. Part D shows the computational mesh for the rotor tip
gap. Grid expansion ratios are applied such that smooth
transition of cell aspect ratios occurs across the computational
domain. A mesh independence study was performed
individually for each section i.e. rotor, tip gap and diffuser. To
achieve this, three separate meshes i.e. coarse, medium and fine
were created for each section and performance factors were
compared along with the spanwise distribution of flow field and
local pressure profiles along the diffuser casing. For singlepassage rotor calculations, with points per passage of 0.6M,
1.5M and 3.1M, the predicted rotor total-to-total efficiencies
were 93.893%, 93.931% and 94.059% respectively. Hence the
rotor total-total efficiency changes by 0.13% when the rotor
mesh is doubled from 1.5M (medium) to 3.1M cells (fine). For

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done by [16] and [9] showed the coupling between the last
stage blade and exhaust with the diffuser and demonstrated the
scope of three-dimensional diffuser shape optimizations.
Fu et al [17] carried out numerical and experimental studies
of unsteady interactions between the LSB and exhaust hood
under different operating conditions, revealing strong
interations between its components. They demonstrated that the
stage performance is dependent on diffuser inlet pressure and
swirl distributions. In the case where rotor tip flows are
supersonic, such as for supersonic reversed cambered blades
[18], there is likely to also be a strong interaction between rotor
trailing-edge shocks and the downstream diffuser.
The diffuser exit conditions are set by the exhaust collector.
Finzel et al [19] presented in-depth experimental comparison
for different exhaust hood confirgurations, diffuser lengths, tip
leakage flows and with swirl. They found that the leakage flow
positively affects the diffuser performance by supressing
adverse pressure effects on the diffuser casing. Further, both
numerical and experimental studies for the gas turbine annular
diffuser have also been shown to benefit from tip clearance
flow, in terms of increasing diffuser pressure recovery [20-21].
Musch et al [22] found an optimum diffuser casing profile
with a tip leakage flow using a coupled boundary layer
calculations in a auto-optimiser, and later confirmed by 3DRANS runs. They paratmetrized the diffuser shape mainly as a
circular arc with variable diffuser exit radii. In the present
study, the focus is on the interaction of the blade tip flow field
and the diffuser casing. The diffusers presented for the most
part of this paper have small levels of separation on the casing.
The present study involves the investigation of flows within
an LP turbine diffuser attached to an upstream rotor, such that
the effects of the rotor flow (such as tip-leakage and trailingedge shocks) on the diffuser and overall turbine work output
can be explored. Initially, the computational method is
validated against rig data provided by GE Power. Then a
generic stage design, representative of a modern LP stage is
used to investigate computationally the rotor/diffuser
interaction. Different design configurations of the diffuser and
rotor casing shapes with a range of hade angles are analysed at
a constant swallowing capacity. The study focuses on the
effects of rotor tip leakage flows and trailing-edge shocks, and
subsequent changes in the stage-diffuser interactions. The
results suggest that the rotor casing shape influences its work
extraction capability. It can yield a better diffuser performance
by significantly improving the static pressure recovery.

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NOMENCLATURE
Cp
Pressure coefficient (Pout - Pin)/ (Po,in - Pin)
Ys
Loss coefficient (Po,in - Po,out)/ (Po,in - Pin)

Leaving loss ratio coefficient (Po,out - Pout)/ (Po,in - Pin)


tt
Total-Total efficiency
(To,out - To,in)/(To,out - To,in - Tout, isentropic)
ts
Total-Static efficiency
(To,out - To,in)/(Tout - To,in - Tout, isentropic)
CP
Specific heat at constant pressure
R
Gas constant

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Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Received May 09, 2016;
Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

DIFFUSER DESIGN
The datum geometry for the blade was provided by Denton
[29]. Using the datum shape, meshes were generated via
automated parametric software written in the MATLAB
specifically for this study. After generating the stage mesh, an
axisymmetric diffuser was generated using the blade exit
coordinates.
The casing profile was generated by four control points
(marked 1-4 in Figure 2) using a Bezier curve which can be
derived from the sum of Bernstein polynomials as shown
below:

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rotor tip gap calculations, with 0.013M, 0.053M and 0.119M


points within tip gap, the leakage mass flow was 0.10439 Kg/s,
0.10456 Kg/s and 0.10467 Kg/s, respectively. Thus, the tip
leakage mass flow varied by 0.15% when the tip-gap mesh size
was doubled from 0.06M (medium) to 0.12M (fine). Similarly,
for diffuser calculations, with a grid point density of 0.7M,
1.6M and 3.8M, the calculated Cp were 24.52%, 25.28% and
25.38%, respectively. Therefore the diffuser Cp varied by about
0.1% when the diffuser mesh size was doubled from 1.6M
(medium) to 3.8M (fine). The medium meshes were selected
for this investigation.

Figure 1. COMPUTATIONAL MESH

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Here, the casing coordinates are described by B(t) and its


shape depends only on the relative position of knot points P n (n
= 1-4). Point 1 is determined from the rotor geometry and is
specified as the casing coordinates of the rotor exit block. Point
4 is determined by a given S/H ratio (where H is fixed and is
equal to the blade height). It should however be noted here that
generally a designer is constrained by an axial limit of the hub
line (i.e. Point 5) due to the presence of shaft bearings and the
adjacent LP turbine casing which has to be compounded on the
same shaft. The actual aspect ratio of diffuser is fixed by the
L/H ratio and S is derived using the specified diffuser area
ratio. Thus, the position of points 4 and 5 depend on the L/H
ratio and the required area ratio. The relative position of Points
2 and 3 with respect to Points 1 and 4, determines the casing
inlet and exit angles. Thus, Points 2 and 3 are evaluated such
that the diffuser inlet casing is in-line with the rotor casing at
the inlet and purely radial at the exit.

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At the inlet to the rotor, radial profiles of stagnation pressure


and temperature, and flow angles were used to fix the inlet
boundary conditions. These boundary conditions were obtained
from a previously converged full stage solution (where the
stator-rotor was interfaced with a mixing plane). The exit
boundary condition specified at the exit of the diffuser was a
fixed static pressure across its face. Convergence was assessed
by the predicted loss, which typically converged to a constant
value between 10-20 thousand time-steps. A perfect gas
thermodynamic model was used with a ratio of specific heats
= 1.063 and Specific Heat capacity at constant pressure CP =
7365J/kgK. The values are chosen to match typical values of
wet steam [1]. Since the present study assumes an
axisymmetric diffuser, only one blade passage was modeled.

Figure 2. DIFFUSER CASING/HUB PROFILING

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Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

section. The S/H value for this study was set at 0.8 with an area
ratio of 1.75. The circumferential width of the diffuser was set
to be equal to the rotor exit blade passage pitch.

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FLOW SOLVER VALIDATION


This section describes the test rig configuration and
comparison of the rig data with CFD predictions. The test data
was provided by GE Power. The objectives of the validation
study were to determine the accuracy with which the
computational method is able to capture the correct rotor exit
conditions and the diffuser performance.
The test rig consisted of 0.1154 scaled model of a real site
stage and standard exhaust hood (L/H = 0.935). Figure 3A
shows the layout of the test rig with visible sections of stator
coloured in red, rotor in green and diffuser in blue. Here, the
stator consisted of 48 blades while the rotor had 55 blades. The
test was run at a constant inlet total pressure of 0.935 Bar and
an inlet temperature of 344K, the downstream pressure was
varied to obtain the required system pressure ratio of 3.75. The
nominal turbine running speed was 12604 rpm. The working
fluid in the rig was a mixture of 90% SF6 (Sulphur
Hexafluoride)/10% Air by weight. The corresponding ideal gas
specific heat at constant pressure (CP) and ratio of specific
heats () specified for numerical analysis were 3919.270
J/Kg/K and 1.124, respectively. The shaft power was measured
via a load cell on the dynamometer.
The rotor exit flow conditions were measured along plane
T (Figure 3A) and similar traverse probes were located at stage
inlet and diffuser exit from which boundary conditions were
determined. The case study selected for solver validation
contains a non-axisymmetric diffuser (see Figure 3B). For the
current axisymmetric calculations, the geometry of the upper
part of the diffuser was simulated. Since in the experimental rig
the flow will be non-axisymmetric along the perimeter of the
diffuser, the simulations are compared with the experimental
data at two different circumferential positions (hereby referred
to as plane 1 and 8). Referred in Figure 3C, planes 1 and 8 are
marked at an angle of 27 degrees from the vertical axis. The
right side of Figure 3C shows respective pressure probe
positions along each measuring plane (1 and 8) on the diffuser
casing. Although positions are identical on either side of the
vertical axis, two positions can identify circumferential nonuniformities in the flow. It should be noted that flow follows a
clockwise direction at rotor exit, i.e. from plane 1 to plane 8.
It should be noted here that the diffuser casing turns
(Figure 4) more than 90o with design L/H value of 0.935. Such
tight exhaust conditions place the present diffuser into a highly
aggressive category. Moreover, the casing profile is faceted
along its surface length, and thus consists of abrupt changes in
the surface gradient at each casing vertex. Under these
conditions, the diffuser casing is likely to separate making the
present case ideal for testing the solver's capability in predicting
the correct flow conditions. Also, the traverse plane T (shown
in Figure 3) is located after the first vertex where the flow is
likely to separate, as shown by the CFD predictions (see Figure
4). Since the experimental tests were performed with a non-

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Figure 3. A) TEST RIG REPRESENTATIVE LAYOUT, B)


NON-AXISYMMETRIC DIFFUSER (LABELLED AS 'D'),
C) POSITION OF PROBES ON DIFFUSER CASING [30]

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Points 2 and 3, which are flexible to move along line


segment 1-2 and 3-4 (see Figure 2), can be regarded as the knot
points that can be stretched or released to provide any desired
smooth curve. Once the position of these points was
determined, a casing profile was generated using software
written for this study using MATLAB. Following this, the
diffuser hub profile was generated such that the area ratio
would increase linearly along the diffuser surface length. A
blending (using a 'Piecewise cubic Hermite interpolation') was
used such that the rotor hub profile connected smoothly with
the diffuser hub profile. Since, any desired diffuser casing
shape can be obtained by moving Points 2 and 3 while keeping
the inlet and exit flow angles fixed, an auto-optimization was
performed using MATLAB global optimization software (using
a genetic algorithm) for a standalone parameterized diffuser.
The inlet boundary conditions were taken from a previously
converged coupled rotor-diffuser solution. The diffuser casing
profile was kept as the design variables while the diffuser
pressure coefficient (Cp) was kept as the objective function to
be maximized. The optimized standalone diffuser generated in
this step was used in the calculations discussed in the results

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Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

description in Figure 3C. The results show a good agreement


between experimental and SA turbulence model data for the
majority of the surface length. The mixing length model in
contrast fails to predict lip static pressure accurately. Overall,
the diffuser casing pressure recovery (Cp = Ps/Poin) distribution
agrees well, suggesting that the blockage caused by the flow
separation is captured properly. Also the rotor exit Mach
numbers show a good match in the radial profile of the static
pressure. In general, the agreement between the CFD and
experiment is encouraging, and the following results are
presented using the SA model, since this appears to predict
more accurately the flow within the diffuser.

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axisymmetric diffuser, the CFD results are compared only for


sectors of the diffuser matching the geometry simulated in the
CFD, which assumed an axisymmetric diffuser.
Figure 5 plots the computed rotor exit pitchwise mass
averaged results against test rig results along the traverse
plane T and the diffuser casing results against the
circumferential probe positions. Part A (see Figure 5) plots
rotor exit relative Mach number distribution along the span
against experimental results (i.e. along plane 1 and 8 described
earlier in Figure 3C). Here, two sets of computational results
are plotted, from simulations using mixing-length (labelled as
"TBlock ML") model and Spalart-Allmaras (labelled as
"TBlock SA") turbulence model. Both models predict the
relative Mach number values near to the measuring plane 8
with SA model in general closely matching data over majority
of the span. Close to the casing, the SA model appears to overpredict the Mach number when compared with the
experimental data; this is likely due to an under prediction of
the rate of mixing of the tip leakage flow in this region. The
mixing length model prediction falls between the plane 1 and
plane 8 values. It should be noted here that differences in
relative Mach number between plane 1 and plane 8
measurements is around 0.2; the data suggests the presence of
a highly three dimensional flow within the diffuser region or a
stator wake along plane 1. Part B plots the rotor exit relative
yaw and Part C plots the pitch angles. Here, yaw (swirl) angle
is referenced with respect to flow axial velocity and pitch
angle is referenced with respect to the meridional velocity.
Between 80-100% span there appears to be an under
prediction of pitch which may be a result of geometrical
differences not modelled in the CFD such as either the nonaxisymmetric diffuser design or a rotor part-span snubber.

Figure 4. PITCHWISE MASS AVERAGED ABSOLUTE


MACH NUMBER COMPUTED (USING SA MODEL) IN
THE MERIDIONAL PLANE
Part D (in Figure 5) shows the variation on the casing of the
diffuser over the lip surface. The rig position of planes 1 and 8
and pressure probe positions are consistent with their

GTP-16-1174

Figure 5. ROTOR EXIT AND DIFFUSER CASING FLOW


COMPARISONS

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Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

RESULTS
The rotor-diffuser working geometry was generated as
described in previous sections and the diffuser area ratio was
set to 1.75, with L/H = 1.617 and S/H = 0.8 (refer to Figure 2).
Eight test cases (see Table 1) were investigated in order to
determine the effects of the rotor/diffuser interactions on
diffuser performance. The test cases with and without a mixing
plane (MP) interface between the rotor and diffuser blocks were
investigated; they allow us to determine the influence of
circumferential non-uniformity on the diffuser and
rotor/diffuser system. Also test cases were investigated with
and without a rotor tip gap for both with and without mixingplanes. The 'no tip gap' case was generated by extending blades
up to the rotor casing. These test cases were also configured to
run at two system pressure ratios of 3.92 and 4.40.
Figure 6 plots the rotor and system efficiencies for the eight
test cases described in Table 1. The system efficiency is based
on the total-to-static efficiency across the rotor-diffuser, where
the exit static pressure is determined from the area-average
static pressure at the diffuser exit. The rotor total-to-total
efficiency is determined based on a constant area mixed-out (in
circumferential and spanwise directions) average at rotor exit.
For the idealized case where an isentropic diffuser is able to
diffuse the flow to a stagnation condition at diffuser exit, the
system and rotor efficiencies would be equal. The difference
between rotor and system efficiencies is thus a measure of the
diffuser performance, while the rotor total-total efficiency is a
measure of the rotor performance alone, since the use of mixedout quantities accounts for any downstream loss which would
have been generated if the rotor was coupled to a constant area
duct.

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circumferential non-uniformities (comparing A1 to B1 or C1 to


D1) is to reduce rotor efficiency by about 0.35% on average.
The addition of a leakage flow (comparing B1 and D1) reduces
rotor efficiency by about 0.6%. The effect on the system due to
the addition of a leakage flow is much larger, reducing the
system efficiency by 2.5%. This suggests that the diffuser
pressure recovery is being reduced due to the interaction of the
leakage flow. At the higher pressure ratio of 4.40, the effects of
both circumferential non-uniformity and leakage flow appear to
have a much greater influence on the rotor performance. In the
absence of a leakage flow, circumferential non-uniformity
reduces the rotor efficiency by 4% (comparing A2 and B2),
while the leakage flow reduces rotor efficiency roughly by 2%
(comparing B2 and D2). The system efficiency follows the
same trend as the rotor efficiency, although, as with the lower
system pressure ratio, the difference between the system and
rotor efficiencies is increased for the cases with leakage flow.
The results suggest that the importance and nature of the
rotor/diffuser interaction is strongly dependent on operating
system pressure ratio and the presence of tip leakage flows. The
following sections will first examine how the diffuser
performance changes for these different test-cases; then the
flows within the rotor casing region are examined; finally the
effect of rotor casing shape on system performance will be
explored.

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The effect of rotor/diffuser interaction on diffuser


performance
The diffuser performance can be assessed by determining
the contributions of the stagnation pressure loss (Ys) and
blockage () to the diffuser pressure rise coefficient (Cp) [21],
as indicated by:

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No
No
with
with
TipGap
TipGap TipGap
TipGap
MP
MP
A1
B1
C1
D1
SysPr = 3.92
A2
B2
C2
D2
SysPr = 4.40
Table 1. TESTS CASES FOR ROTOR/DIFFUSER
INTERACTIONS

Figure 6. ROTOR AND SYSTEM EFFICIENCIES FOR


TESTCASES DESCRIBED IN TABLE 1.
At a system pressure ratio of 3.92, Figure 6 (see also Table
1) shows that the effect on rotor performance due to

GTP-16-1174

where total pressure loss (Ys) gives the sum of stagnation


pressure loss due to viscous effects (mixing/shearing) and nonequilibrium processes (shocks) within the diffuser flow; and
inviscid loading (1-) is a measure of blockage produced by
processes such as boundary layer separation, where is the
ratio of exit to inlet kinetic energy. The relationship shows that,
for a given area-ratio, Ys has a direct negative effect on the
pressure recovery capability of the diffuser; for a fixed exit
static pressure, this can be understood by considering total
pressure losses in the diffuser as having a back-pressuring
effect on the stage, requiring a higher diffuser inlet total
pressure in order to overcome the momentum lost through
viscous effects in the diffuser.
The reference plane used in the calculation of Cp, and Ys
was located upstream of the rotor/diffuser interface, so that for
cases which contained a mixing-plane, the Ys values contained
the mixing-loss associated with the circumferential mixing of
the flow which occurs across the mixing plane. The reference
plane location is shown in Figure 2 labelled b. The
rotor/diffuser interface (labelled as 'c') was located close to the
rotor trailing-edge; such close proximity of the mixing-plane to
the rotor trailing-edge was not found to cause any
computational issues in this study. Here, the static quantities are

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Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

reducing blockage. For the cases discussed in this paper, the


diffuser does not exhibit a large-scale separation, and therefore
this effect does not occur. For cases with a leakage flow (C and
D) with and without mixing-plane at both pressure ratios,
shows that the unmixed leakage flow appears to marginally
reduce the diffuser loss, but increase blockage (increase Y s and
). Despite the reduction in loss, overall the increased blockage
tends to reduce Cp.

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computed using area averaging while stagnation quantities are


mass averaged.
The diffuser performance factors for the eight test cases are
plotted in Figure 7 and Figure 8. Comparing cases with and
without a mixing-plane, such as case A1 and B1, allows us to
determine the effect of circumferential non-uniformity on
diffuser performance due to the presence of blade wakes and
trailing-edge shocks. Similarly, comparison of the cases with a
tip gap (C1 and D1) helps to understand the nature of loss
production by a leakage flow as it moves within the diffuser
flow.

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Figure 7. DIFFUSER PERFORMANCE FACTORS AT


SYSPR = 3.92

Figure 8. DIFFUSER PERFORMANCE FACTORS AT


SYSPR = 4.40

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Figure 9. SLICE PLANE OF STATIC PRESSURE


CONTOUR AT 97.50% SPAN

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At SysPr = 3.92 in Figure 7, the removal of the mixing plane


leads to a 1.7% drop in Cp (from A1 to B1) mostly due to an
increase in total pressure loss. Thus circumferential nonuniformity appears to increase diffuser losses to a small extent;
there is a 1.2% rise in loss when the mixing-plane is removed
(comparing A1 and B1). Comparing the cases with and without
tip-gap (i.e. A and C) in Figure 7 and Figure 8, shows that the
leakage flow reduces the diffuser pressure recovery (Cp) by
increasing the diffuser loss (Ys) and increasing blockage ().
Previous studies [20-22] have shown that in some cases the
leakage flow can enhance Cp, but this is normally associated
with the effect of leakage flows in delaying separation and

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At the higher pressure ratio of 4.40, the increase in Y s is


much larger (see Figure 8), and there is a 20% increase in
diffuser loss when the mixing plane is removed, which reduces
the Cp by 15.6%. Such a large increase in total pressure loss
between A2 and B2 suggests the presence of additional loss
mechanisms within the diffuser flow. The cause of this
additional loss can be observed in Figure 9, which shows static
pressure contours on a blade-to-blade plane at 97.50% of span.
Identified on this figure are the positions of the mixing-plane,
the diffuser inlet reference plane, and also the shocks emanating
from the rotor trailing-edge. In cases A1 and B1, we can see

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Superimposed on this figure are contours lines of isentropic


Mach number = 1, which identifies regions of supersonic and
subsonic free-stream flow. Similarly, the trajectories of rotor
blade wakes, trailing edge shock propagation and leakage flow
traces are superimposed as shown in Figure 11. Looking at the
mixing-plane cases A1 and A2, shows the effect of increased
pressure ratio, which raises the lip loading and leads to a
normal shock at X. When the mixing plane interface is
removed, as shown in B1 and B2, the regions of supersonic
flow extend much further into the diffuser (as identified by
black contour lines). Very large fluctuations in the lip static
pressure are observed and these are caused by the rotor trailingedge shocks (labelled Y) as they propagate into the diffuser,
creating a moving pressure field. The interaction of these
shocks with the diffuser boundary-layer are likely to lead to
additional losses, which can also contribute to the additional
loss observed between cases with and without a mixing-plane.

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that the removal of the mixing-plane introduces shocks from


the suction-side trailing-edge region (TE-SS) into the diffuser,
but the pressure-side shock (TE-PS) which exists upstream of
the mixing-plane remains relatively unaffected by the presence
of the mixing-plane. At the higher pressure-ratio, the pressureside trailing-edge shock (TE-PS) shifts downstream slightly due
to the higher blade loading, such that now it crosses the
diffuser/rotor interface when there is no mixing-plane (see B2)
and is thus removed when the mixing-plane is present (see B1).
It will be shown later that the increased diffuser loss observed
between A2 and B2 (see Figure 6) is in-part due to the
additional shock loss associated with the pressure-side arm of
the trailing-edge shock entering the diffuser.
Figure 10 shows the pitchwise averaged absolute Mach
number contours for the different tests cases discussed above.
These contours are superimposed with velocity vectors and
very low (< 20m/s) absolute velocity contour lines (shown in
red), thereby giving a sense of flow circulations near diffuser
exit. We can note that the diffuser flow does not contain any
recirculation regions except in test cases C1, C2 and D1 where
very low level of recirculation is observed near the exit side of
diffuser hub. Comparing A1 and A2 shows that increasing
system pressure ratio increases the absolute Mach number near
the diffuser casing. The casing side flow becomes transonic at
the higher system pressure ratio, but remains relatively
unchanged away from the casing, where the flow is subsonic.
At the higher pressure ratio, normal shocks are observed near
the casing (labelled X). Comparing A2 and B2 shows that the
removal of the mixing-plane in B2 leads to a shift of this
normal shock further downstream.
A casing normal shock (labelled as X) can be observed in
C2 and D2 where a leakage flow is introduced. Again the
removal of the mixing-plane leads to an increase in the normal
shock strength; in D2 the shock causes a thicker boundary-layer
and lower Mach number over the diffuser lip as compared to
the mixing-plane case C2. The increased blockage can also be
observed in the rise of between the cases seen in Figure 8. It
is interesting to note that the total loss in this case is not greatly
affected by the mixing-plane (see Figure 8). It is possible that
the increased shock loss is offset by a reduction in boundarylayer loss because of the reduction in casing lip Mach number,
since viscous losses are highly dependent on the boundarylayer edge Mach number, and will increase with boundary-layer
edge velocity cubed [3].
Comparing the corresponding values for each test case
between Figure 7 and Figure 8, it can be observed that the loss
rises when the system pressure ratio is increased. Despite the
increase in the loss, the pressure recovery (Cp) increases due to
the reduction in the blockage . In order to demonstrate the
effect of the rotor/diffuser interactions on the diffuser lip
surface static pressure, Figure 11 plots the local diffuser
pressure recovery coefficient on the diffuser casing for the eight
test-cases. Here, the local Cp is computed as:

Figure 10. PITCHWISE AVERAGE ABSOLUTE MACH


NUMBER (TIP GAP = 1% SPAN FOR C AND D CASES)

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Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Received May 09, 2016;
Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

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Figure 11. LOCAL Cp VALUES COMPUTED ON


DIFFUSER CASING

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The introduction of a tip leakage flow greatly diminishes


the effect of the rotor trailing-edge shocks on the lip surface
static pressure (comparing B1 with D1 and B2 with D2). When
the leakage flow is present, the fluctuations in lip-surface
pressure are largely due to the propagation of the leakage flow
within the diffuser. Since the leakage flow tends to reduce the
effect of trailing-edge shocks on the lip surface boundary-layer
this may in-part explain why the presence of the mixing-plane
has less effect on losses when there is a leakage flow present, as
compared to the no tip-gap cases at the higher system pressure
ratio.
Further insight into the variation in performance along the
diffuser length can be gained from Figure 12. Here, the diffuser
Cp and Ys are plotted using 1D averaged values along the
diffuser surface length. At SysPr = 3.92, the Cp tends to
increase continuously along the diffuser length for the cases

GTP-16-1174

without a leakage flow. The primary rise in Cp occurs within the


first 40% of the diffuser length which is the region of highest
curvature change along the diffuser length. Cp values in A2
quickly rise due to the presence of a stronger pressure side arm
of the trailing edge shock (shown in Figure 9). Since, the
pitchwise non-uniformities are already mixed-out for cases A1
and A2, which include a mixing plane at s/So=0.01, the values
of Ys are nearly constant along the length of the diffuser. When
the mixing-plane is removed, the mixing of the rotor wakes in
case B1 creates a total pressure loss within the diffuser which is
similar to the rise in total pressure loss across the mixing plane
seen in A1. Thus, the effect of mixing the flow within the
diffuser does not appear to greatly affect loss for this case.
The variation in Cp and Ys follows a similar trend to cases
without tip gap when a leakage flow is introduced at SysPr =
3.92 in Figure 12. But the Cp rise is not monotonic, especially
near the diffuser inlet where the leakage flow undergoes a rapid
expansion along the highly curved diffuser casing. Again, at the
lower system pressure ratio, the mixing of the leakage flow

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Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

position ensuring a fixed leakage area along the chord. All tests
cases were run with and without tip gap flow.
Figure 14 plots the diffuser performance factors for
different hade angles. It reveals that the diffuser Cp is highly
enhanced with an increase in the hade angle. Also, the total
pressure loss (Ys) is relatively unaffected by hade. The changes
in Cp are therefore a consequence of changes in diffuser
inviscid loading (1-). Figure 15 plots the pitchwise averaged
radial profiles of static and total pressure and stagnation
temperature from 60-100% span at the diffuser inlet, for the
cases with and without leakage flow. For simplicity, only three
hade angles are provided. The results show that the effect of
hade is to greatly reduce the static pressure in the upper portion
of the span, increasing the work-output in this region
significantly. For cases with a tip gap, the results show a large
reduction in the stagnation pressure and temperature in the
region of the leakage flow ~99% span with the rise in the hade
angle.

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within the diffuser appears to create a similar level of loss as


the loss rise across the mixing interface.
At the higher system pressure ratio (SysPr = 4.40), the cases
without a leakage flow (A2 and B2) show very different losses
and pressure recovery. In the mixing-plane case (A2), the loss
remains roughly constant after the mixing-plane since there is
little additional loss created in the diffuser. The removal of the
mixing-plane in B2 shows a much larger rise in loss and this
occurs within the first 1% of the diffuser due to the additional
shock loss from the pressure-side arm of the rotor trailing-edge
shock (as discussed earlier). We also saw previously that at the
higher system pressure ratio, SysPr = 4.40, a casing side normal
shock develops. For these cases, the Cp values initially drop due
to the rapid flow expansion (at high flow turning) prior to the
normal shock wave on the diffuser casing. The position of the
casing shock (marked as K) in Figure 12, and this shows the
shock strength increases significantly with the introduction of
the leakage flow.

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Figure 12. 1D PERFORMANCE FACTORS ALONG


DIFFUSER LENGTH

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Hade angle variation


The present section details the investigation of the rotor
casing hade angle as depicted in Figure 13. The casing point
above the rotor trailing edge was fixed, and the hade was varied
by moving the radial position of the leading-edge point. The
diffuser casing was kept fixed in order to create a discontinuity
in curvature at the junction of the rotor-diffuser casing line,
with the aim of producing a Prandtl-Meyer compression in this
region. The rotor blade tip was modified to match the required
tip gap of 1% of the span (fraction of radii) at each chord-wise

GTP-16-1174

Figure 13. ROTOR HADE ANGLES CONFIGURATIONS


Figure 16 plots the pitchwise average Mach number for
different hade angles and reveals the reduction in the casing
side flow Mach number as hade angle is increased. The
presence of the compression corner introduced with high hade
angles reduces the diffuser lip surface Mach number and aids
the diffusion of the flow, thus raising the diffuser pressure
recovery.
Figure 17 shows the variation in rotor total-to-total
efficiency and system total-to-static efficiency (as defined
previously). The overall system performance is significantly
improved as hade increases; from 0-40o hade, the system
efficiency rises by 0.65% for the case without tip leakage and
by 2% for the case with tip leakage. It is interesting to note
that hade has a greater benefit on the system when there is a
leakage flow present. For hade angles greater than about 40 o
the performance benefit is much less apparent, and indeed
there will likely be a practical limit, such as blade axial
movement/wet steam extraction/blade vibrations, which will
determine the optimum hade. Superimposed on the same plot

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Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

are system total-to-static efficiencies, for cases both with and


without tip gap, for calculations with a mixing plane (MP)
interface between rotor and diffuser. For simplicity, only
calculations up to hade = 40o are plotted. The system
efficiency values remain unchanged when the rotor exit flow
(with or without leakage flow) is mixed out completely. The
results are in line with the results from previous sections
where the system total-to-static efficiency is not greatly
affected by the circumferential non-uniformities in the flow.
Figure 18 plots the tip leakage mass flow rate against
different hade angles tested. It reveals that the increasing hade
angle from 0o to 50o reduces the magnitude of the leakage
flow by more than 30%. As hade increases the leakage mass
flux is reduced in magnitude and is redistributed towards the
rotor leading edge, as indicated in the contours of leakage
mass flux at Hade=0deg and 50deg. The reduction in tip
leakage with increasing hade is a likely cause of the increased
sensitivity of the system performance to hade for the cases
with tip leakage.

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two insights regarding changes in the rotor by increasing hade:


(a) the rotor tip loading redistributes, particularly reducing
near the trailing edge and rising near the leading edge; (b) the
mean blade loading away from the casing increases at higher
hade angles. The latter is in line with the increased diffuser
pressure recovery observed in made in Figure 14.

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Figure 15. SPANWISE PRESSURE AND TEMPERATURE


DISTRIBUTION AT ROTOR EXIT/DIFFUSER INLET

Figure 14. DIFFUSER PERFORMANCE FACTORS FOR


HADE ANGLE VARIATION
Figure 19 shows that the cause of this redistribution and
reduction of leakage flow is due to significant changes in the
blade tip loading. The figure shows the suction-to-pressure
surface pressure difference for three hade angles (0,30,50deg)
and for cases with and without leakage flow. The figure gives

GTP-16-1174

CONCLUSIONS
A study was performed of the flows within a last-stage
steam turbine rotor and coupled axial-radial diffuser. A CFD
solver was first validated against rig data before being used to
investigate various aspects of the rotor and diffuser flow field.
The paper focused on two main lines of investigation: the first
was the effects of circumferential non-uniformity and leakage
flows on the coupled rotor/diffuser performance; the second
area of study was the effect of rotor casing shape (namely hade
angle) on the coupled system performance. The study revealed
that the majority of the entropy rise across the diffuser is a
result of trailing-edge shocks and the mixing loss generated by
the rotor flow. For cases without a leakage flow, trailing-edge
shocks were found to greatly influence the unsteady pressure
field on the diffuser casing. The presence of a leakage flow
virtually eliminated this effect, by off-loading the rotor tip and
reducing the trailing-edge shock strength. In most cases, mixing
of flow features in the diffuser generated similar losses if mixed
upstream of the diffuser across a mixing-plane, or within the
diffuser.
Increasing hade angle of the rotor casing significantly
increased the diffuser pressure recovery and reduced tip leakage
flows; the combined effects led to an increase in overall system
performance of around 2% as hade was increased from 0 to
40deg.

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Journal of Engineering for Gas Turbines and Power. Received May 09, 2016;
Accepted manuscript posted August 11, 2016. doi:10.1115/1.4034417
Copyright (c) 2016 by ASME

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Figure 18. VARIATION IN THE TIP LEAKAGE MASS


FLOW AS A PROPORTION OF MAINSTREAM MASS
FLOW AT VARIOUS HADE ANGLES

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Figure 16. PITCHWISE ABSOLUTE MACH NUMBER AT


DIFFERENT HADE ANGLES

Figure 19. PRESSURE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN


ROTOR PRESSURE AND SUCTION SURFACES
INDICATING CHANGES IN THE BLADE LOADING AS
HADE ANGLE IS VARIED

Figure 17. CHANGE IN THE ROTOR AND SYSTEM


EFFICIENCYs WITH VARIANTION IN HADE ANGLE

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REFERENCES
[1] Stuer H., Truckenmuller F., Borthwick D., Denton JD.
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[2] McBean, I., Havakechian, S., & Masserey, P.-A. (2010).
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors would like to thank Prof. John Denton for
providing his CFD solver along with the datum geometry. His
initial comments to start this study during a personal meeting
are deeply regarded. The comments and ideas from Dr. Brian
Haller and Dr. Sungho Yoon, GE Power, Rugby proved to be
the underline building of this paper. The funding for this project
was provided by QMUL, London. The solver validation data
was provided by GE Power, Rugby.

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[29] Denton J., Personal communication, Consultant to GE


Power, Rugby.
[30] Private communication, GE Power, Rugby.
[31] Cambridge Turbomachinery Course - 2012, Chapter 1.
[32] Thorpe S. J., Miller R. J., Yoshino S., Ainsworth R.W.,
Harvey N. W. (2007). The effect of work processes on the
casing heat transfer of a transonic turbine. Transactions of
ASME, p84-91/Vol. 129, Jan-2007.

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